Ultra Music Festival pours millions into economy, study says

A study commissioned by Ultra Music Festival says the three-day event supports 915 jobs and pumps $79 million into Miami-Dade’s economy.

10/10/2012 6:00 AM

10/10/2012 7:24 AM

Electronic music extravaganza Ultra Music Festival and its fans pour $40 million directly into the economy every year for everything from equipment rentals to glow sticks, according to a new study.

With indirect and induced spending included, that number totals $79 million, according to the report from the Washington Economics Group, which also said the three-day event supports 915 jobs. The report says the event’s organizers spend about $11.5 million on operational costs.

The festival’s producers commissioned the report to show how the event benefits the area.

“It really benefits all the businesses locally the most and that’s what I think really makes it significant,” said Adam Russakoff, Ultra’s director of business affairs.

Ultra lands in Miami every March, already high season for Miami, bringing an estimated 55,000 people a day to enjoy internationally renowned DJs and performers for hours-long dance parties. Last year’s lineup included DJ Tiesto, David Guetta and an appearance by Madonna.

Next year, the 15th for the event, Ultra will be held from March 22-24 in Bayfront Park.

About 60 percent of attendees hail from outside Miami-Dade, the study says, and they and other late-March visitors appear to have been busy booking hotel stays already.

“We’re trying to book rooms right now for next year, and every hotel we’re reaching out to is sold out,” said Russell Faibisch, the festival’s executive director and one of its creators.

Already busy because of cooler weather and other events, hotels in Miami are able to take advantage of the increased demands to command top prices in March.

“All the hotel rooms get occupied, so that allows us to get a higher rate,” said Laurence Richardson, director of sales and marketing at the Hilton Miami Downtown.

He said the hotel doesn’t fill up with Ultra visitors, but there is a noticeable difference in the average guest age.

The general crowd for Ultra is between 18-30, organizers said, and they typically come into town early to participate in other events including parties affiliated with Winter Music Conference, which runs next year from March 15-24. They also tend to stay out long after Ultra wraps up, at midnight on Friday and Saturday and 11 p.m. Sunday.

“They leave our event and they go out to all the nightclubs in town,” said festival producer Ray Steinman.

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